Freeze-drying is often used in manufacture of pharmaceuticals to remove a solvent in such a way that the sensitive molecular structure of the active substance of a drug is least disturbed, and to provide a sterile powder that can be quickly and completely rehydrated. In this work heat transfer rates in a laboratory-scale freeze-dryer have been measured to investigate the contribution of different heat transfer modes. Pure water was partially dried under low-pressure conditions and sublimation rates were determined gravimetrically. The heat transfer rates were observed to be independent of the separation distance between a product vial and a dryer shelf and linearly dependent on the pressure in the free molecular limit. However, under higher pressures the heat transfer rates were independent of pressure and inversely proportional to the separation distance. Previous heat transfer studies in conventional freeze-drying cycles have attributed a dominant portion of the total heat transfer to radiation, the rest to conduction, whereas the convection has been found insignificant. While the measurements revealed the significance of the radiative and gas conduction components, the convective component was found to be comparable to the gas conduction contribution at pressures greater than 100mTorr. The current investigation suggests that the convective component of the heat transfer cannot be ignored at typical laboratory-scale freeze-drying conditions.


This is the published version of A. Ganguly*, S. Nail, and A. Alexeenko. 2010. “Experimental Determination of the Key Heat Transfer Mechanisms in Pharmaceutical Freeze Drying”. First published as 10th AIAA/ASME Joint Thermophysics and Heat Transfer Conference Paper and is available online at: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdf/10.2514/6.2010-4654.

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